South Dakota Supreme Court
Chief Justice David E. Gilbertson
Chief Justice Gilbertson was elected to a 4-year term as Chief Justice by the members of the Supreme Court in September 2001, was
re-elected to a second 4-year term as Chief Justice by the members of the Supreme Court in June 2005, a third 4-year term in
June 2009 and a fourth 4-year term in June 2013. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in April 1995 to represent the Fifth
Supreme Court District, which includes Brown, Butte, Campbell, Clark, Codington, Corson, Day, Deuel, Dewey, Edmunds, Faulk,
Grant, Hamlin, Harding, Marshall, McPherson, Perkins, Potter, Roberts, Spink, Walworth and Ziebach counties, and was retained
by the voters in the 1998, 2006 and 2014 general elections.
Chief Justice Gilbertson received his undergraduate degree from South Dakota State University in 1972 and his Juris Doctor from
the University of South Dakota, School of Law in 1975. He engaged in private practice from 1975 until his appointment to the
circuit court bench in 1986. He served as a Circuit Judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit from 1986 until his appointment to
the Supreme Court in 1995.
He is past President of the South Dakota Judges Association and is President-Elect of the Conference of Chief Justices and will
serve as its President for the 2015-16 term. He chairs its Committees on Tribal/State Relations and the Task Force on Politics
and Judicial Selection. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Conference of Chief Justices from 2005-2007. He is
the Chair-Elect of the National Center for State Courts and will serve as its Chair for the 2015-16 term.
In 2006, he was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the National Center for State Courts for his defense of
judicial independence. He was the recipient of the “Grass Roots” Award by the American Bar Association in 2014 also for his
defense of judicial independence. Since 2010 he has served as the state representative on the Criminal Rules Committee of
the United States Courts. He also serves on the Judicial-Bar Liaison Committee of the State Bar Association and has served
as a Court Counselor at South Dakota Boys State since 1995. Chief Justice Gilbertson and his wife Deb have four children.
Justice Steven L. Zinter
Justice Zinter, of Pierre, was appointed to the Supreme Court on April 2, 2002 by former Governor William J. Janklow. He received his
B.S. degree from the University of South Dakota and his Juris Doctor from the University of South Dakota School of Law. Upon
graduation from law school, Justice Zinter practiced law as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of South Dakota. From
1978 to 1986 he was engaged in the private practice of law. Justice Zinter also served as the Hughes County State’s Attorney.
He was appointed as a Circuit Judge in 1987 and served in that capacity until 1997. In 1997 he was appointed Presiding Judge
of the Sixth Judicial Circuit and served in that capacity until his appointment to the Supreme Court to represent the Third
Supreme Court District, which includes Beadle, Bennett, Brookings, Brule, Buffalo, Fall River, Haakon, Hand, Hughes, Hyde,
Jackson, Jerauld, Jones, Kingsbury, Lake, Lyman, Mellette, Miner, Moody, Sanborn, Oglala Lakota, Stanley, Sully, Todd and
Tripp counties. Justice Zinter was retained by the voters in 2014. Justice Zinter is a member of the American Bar Association,
the State Bar Association, and the South Dakota Judges Association. He was a past President of the South Dakota Judges
Association and a past trustee of the Harry S. Truman Foundation along with a number of other boards and commissions.
Justice Zinter and his wife have two children and three grandchildren.
Justice Glen A. Severson
Justice Severson, represents the Second Supreme Court District, which includes Minnehaha County. He attended the University of
South Dakota receiving a B.S. in 1972 and the University of South Dakota, School of Law receiving a Juris Doctor degree in
1975. He was a member of the Fingerson and Severson Law Firm from 1983 to 1992 and served as the Huron City Attorney from
1977-1991 and a Beadle County Deputy States Attorney in 1975. He was appointed a Circuit Judge in the Second Circuit in
1993 and served as Presiding Judge from 2002 until his appointment to the Supreme Court. Justice Severson was appointed
to the Supreme Court in 2009 after sixteen years on the trial bench and was retained by the voters in 2012. He is a member
of the American Bar Association, South Dakota Bar Association and Second Circuit Bar Association. He served in the South
Dakota Air National Guard from 1967-1973. He was a member of the South Dakota Board of Water and Natural Resources (1986-1992)
and has served on a number of other boards and commissions. Justice Severson and his wife Mary have two children, Thomas and Kathryn.
Justice Lori S. Wilbur
Justice Wilbur, appointed to the Supreme Court on August 16, 2011 by Governor Dennis Daugaard, represents the Fourth Supreme Court
District, which includes Aurora, Bon Homme, Charles Mix, Clay, Davison, Douglas, Gregory, Hanson, Hutchinson, Lincoln, McCook,
Turner, Union, and Yankton counties. Justice Wilbur was retained by the voters in 2014. She attended the University of South
Dakota receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1974 and the University of South Dakota, School of Law, receiving a Juris Doctor
degree in 1977. She served as a law clerk for the South Dakota Supreme Court for Honorable Laurence J. Zastrow; was an assistant
Attorney General; General Counsel, South Dakota Board of Regents; Staff Attorney, South Dakota Legislative Research Council; and
Legal Counsel, South Dakota Bureau of Personnel. She is a member and past President of the South Dakota Judges Association, past
member and Secretary of the Judicial Qualifications Commission and a member of the Rosebud Bar Association. She served as a
Law-Trained Magistrate Judge, Sixth Circuit 1992-1999; Circuit Court Judge, Sixth Circuit, 1999-2011; and Presiding Judge, Sixth
Circuit, 2007 – 2011. Justice Wilbur has two daughters and one grandson.
Justice Janine M. Kern
Justice Kern, who was appointed to the Supreme Court on November 25, 2014, by Governor Dennis Daugaard, represents the First Supreme
Court District, which includes Custer, Lawrence, Meade and Pennington counties. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1982
from Arizona State University and her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1985. Justice Kern worked
in the Attorney General’s office from 1985–1996 serving in a variety of capacities including the appellate division, drug prosecution
unit and as Director of the Litigation Division. She was appointed a Circuit Court Judge in 1996 in the Seventh Judicial Circuit
comprised of Custer, Fall River, Pennington and Shannon Counties and served 18 years on the trial court bench. She is a member of the
American Law Institute, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the State Bar Association, the Pennington County Bar
Association, the American Bar Association Fellows and past President of the South Dakota Judges Association. She served on the Council
of Juvenile Services from 2004–2013 and on the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice from 2004–2008 and on numerous other
boards and commissions. Justice Kern and her husband Greg Biegler make their home in the beautiful Black Hills.